UGC: the at-home marketing revolution
UGC is reshaping the marketing industry, by boosting revenue and fostering consumer trust, but at what cost to existing marketing roles? Alisha Centrone reports.
Three months after leaving her full time Marketing Manager role to pursue a career in content creation, Carla Centrone is one of many self-employed individuals who are changing the way of marketing.
Centrone, who now works full time for her own business, Creatively Carla, makes user-generated content (UGC) for brands.
“I’ve met many creators who have also left their full time roles to pursue UGC,” she says.
“If you’re successful in UGC, you’re able to make a greater income than a typical marketing role, and you get to work for yourself.”
Centrone creates a video from the comfort of her bedroom, for popular Japanese skincare brand, KITA.Photo: Alisha Centrone.
UGC is brand-specific content related to a product or service that is created by individuals, rather than the brand itself. It positions the creator as a customer, and highlights the product’s benefits and features, enticing consumers to buy.
A major factor for brands converting to UGC advertisements is the impact it has on consumer spending and brand awareness.
Centrone has worked with many brands in different industries for content, such as Frank Body, DOG by Dr Lisa, Bumble, Airtasker and Revlon.
A survey by Search Logistics found that UGC is 35 per cent more memorable as an advertisement than content from professional marketers.
Using UGC for campaigns resulted in a 29 per cent higher conversion rate, compared to those that did not use it.
Centrone says UGC is the next step in modern day marketing.
“As great as customers are, brands can’t rely on them to make natural looking content, so that’s where the UGC creators come in,” she says.
“We create high-quality, well-polished content that can come in many for such as videos reviews, photos, vlogs or unboxings.”
UGC advertisements receive four times the “click through rates” than that of traditional marketing.
A study of more than 2000 consumers by Stackla concluded that many consumers want brands to offer more transparency and authenticity when advertising.
The research found that 83 per cent of consumers believed that businesses needed to provide a more targeted shopping experience, and UGC could be the solution.
“Consumers often relate better to real people, so UGC can appear more authentic and trustworthy,” Centrone says.
When ranked based on levels of impact on purchase decisions, brand-created content fell second to UGC; 12 per cent of consumers favoured content made by brands, compared to 79 per cent who preferred UGC.
Maddison Barbuto, a marketing executive at Marketing Executive at BOUNCEinc, says that UGC can be a great form of marketing for businesses and for relationships with customers.
“Customers value a point of transparency when purchasing, and UGC helps to support that,” she says.
“UGC consistently receives higher results, so is therefore a better form of marketing in my opinion. It’s working it’s way more and more into the daily life of marketing.
“You've got to find creators who align with the brand and will portray the business in a good way, and if that investment of budget is done correctly it can produce great results,” she says.
Barbuto says UGC has had an impact on the marketing industry, with certain jobs needing to adjust, or no longer being needed.
“We’re seeing less of a need for in-house content creation related roles, as UGC is taking that place,” she says.
“Not all jobs in marketing are disappearing, some are just changing.”
The average charge for one UGC brand video in 2023 is $520. The cost can vary depending on the platform, the output delivered, and the usage rights of content.
Small business owner Jess Quin says that from a small business perspective, UGC can reach a much larger audience and the results can be promising.
“UGC can produce great results that show consumers what the product can do, and how to use it,” she says.
“I invest in UGC because of the amount of consumers it can reach. It looks better than if myself as the owner is the only one promoting the product.”
However, sometimes creators can charge outside a small businesses budget.
“Sometimes creators can expect upwards of $750 for a single video, which can be unrealistic for some small businesses.
“I don’t think UGC will take away any marketing jobs from a small business perspective, because we often are doing the content creation side of things ourselves.
“It’s bigger companies that may find UGC takes over some of their existing roles.”
A report from Allied Market Research concluded that in 2022 the global UGC market size was valued at $4.7 billion, and was projected to reach $71.3 billion by 2032.
Centrone says she believes many people have the potential to work for themselves and earn a greater income.
“It’s definitely a risk and can be scary, but sometimes you’ve got to take a leap,” she says.
“There will always be marketing roles available, but I think in future I can see more people having the opportunity of working for themselves.”
“If you can make double, or even triple your monthly wage and you enjoy making content, then it can be a great step.”
Barbuto says some areas of marketing may see a reduction in roles, but teams still need to have a stable base.
“UGC is not just a part of the social media side of marketing, it encompasses all aspects.”
“You still need people to source the UGC creators, monitor their work, their budgets and organise campaigns,” she says.
“Marketing won’t be extinct, it’s just ever-changing.”